ATLANTA — North Carolina and Duke stayed away. Having been through this so many times before, neither school felt it necessary to show up a day early at the Georgia Dome.
Wake Forest saw it differently.
The other member of the Big Three took the court Wednesday night in a largely empty building, looking for any little edge that might make a difference in what figures to be a brutal Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
"I wanted them to be in this atmosphere," coach Dino Gaudio said. "It’s always good to get ‘em in the arena for the first time."
The ACC tournament tipped off Thursday at a football stadium in downtown Atlanta, where things figure to be a bit unusual in the stands.
Not since 1966 had the league put tickets up for sale to the public, but there were still seats available on the eve of the opening game.
It sure has nothing to do with the quality of the competition.
No. 1 North Carolina (27-3, 13-3 ACC) comes in as the top seed after winning the regular-season crown. There’s all sorts of potential challengers standing in the way, most notably the eighth-ranked Demon Deacons and No. 9 Duke.
Even last-place Georgia Tech thinks it has a chance, especially playing in its hometown.